Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Discovery could launch this Wednesday Night

Space shuttle program managers will head into Friday's flight readiness review aiming for the launch of shuttle Discovery this Wednesday with the confidence that the gaseous hydrogen flow valves replacement is well behind them.

The top level meeting by all agency centers will begin Friday afternoon and last several hours as senior NASA managers report on the valve replacements, and any other technical issues dealing with the space shuttle stack. Weather for next week will also be addressed on Friday.

Current weather models show a cool front moving through central Florida next Thursday, bringing showers and cooler temperatures to the Cape. This Wednesday is more ideal with temps in the mid-60's at launch time and scattered clouds.

And so, if everyone states that the agency can go fly on Wednesday, March 11th, then NASA will set that date as the official launch date.

Delayed a full month due to testing and later change out of the three gaseous hydrogen flow valves located behind the space shuttle's main engine's, KSC engineers today are confident enough that the replacement GH2 valves are in good shape to support Discovery's ascent.

A piece of one of Endeavour's GH2 valves broke off during its launch last November, and some engineers state that could have been a major issue to Endeavours flight performance and early flight termination.

A launch this Wednesday would see the liftoff time occur at 9:20 pm EDT. Space Launch will have complete live coverage of Discovery's launch week and launch day activities, beginning with the crew arrival on Sunday night here at the Cape.

NASA must launch Discovery on or before March 13th due to full mission requirements. [Addressed in my earlier story below] Russia's launch and docking of a manned Soyuz to the international space station late this month and an Atlas V rocket launch from the Cape are factors in launching NASA's 125th space shuttle flight before the ides of March.

Check back on Friday for our complete rundown of STS-119's mission times and new information.

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